Lightweight Linux distribution

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Lightweight Linux distribution
File:Lubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal.png
Lubuntu is described by its developers as lightweight in comparison to Ubuntu

A lightweight Linux distribution is a Linux distribution that uses relatively few resources, which may result in performance improvements especially on old computers with slower CPUs and less RAM.

One big factor that determines the resource usage and speed of a desktop distribution is the window manager it uses.[1][2] For example, version 10.10 of Lubuntu uses the LXDE window manager and requires a minimum of 128 MB of RAM and a Pentium II processor; it is a lightweight variant of Ubuntu that, in comparison, uses Unity as a window manager and requires a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM.[3][4][5] The window manager can be changed in most Linux distributions, and the same Linux distribution may also have various versions with different window managers; examples are Porteus, which comes in LXDE, Xfce and Mate versions, and Zenwalk, which comes in Xfce and Openbox versions.

Distributions described as lightweight

  • Alpine Linux – a security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution (307 MB) based on musl and BusyBox.[6] Mini download is 66 MB; base system (excluding kernel) is under 5 MB. Media download is 308 MB for version 3.1.3.
  • Absolute Linux – a lightweight desktop-oriented distribution based on Slackware
  • antiX – lightweight version (690 MB) of its parent distribution MEPIS Linux, based on Debian testing. Core install: 128 MB, Base approx. 300 MB. Package manager: Synaptic[7]
  • ArchBang – inspired by CrunchBang Linux but based on the Arch Linux distribution instead of Debian. It uses the lightweight Openbox Window Manager to achieve the same look and feel.[8][9]
  • BasicLinux – a very lightweight distribution (2.8 MB apparently) capable of running on an Intel 386 and 3 MB of RAM[10][11]
  • Bodhi Linux – a lightweight and minimalistic distribution[12]
  • CoreOS – a lightweight system (2×1 GB) than runs containers and provides cluster management capabilities
  • Chrome OS
  • CrunchBang Linux – No longer in development; succeeded by BunsenLabs.[13] A relatively large (771 MB) Debian based distribution designed primarily for speed and ease of use.[14][15]
  • Damn Small Linux – download: 50 MB. Additional software available as "DSL Extensions" and using the Debian APT tool, which has to be installed. "Light enough to power a 486DX with 16 MB of RAM"[16][17]
  • Elive – a lightweight and complete distribution that can run in 64 MB of RAM and 100 MHz of CPU, based on Debian and using a customized Enlightenment as only Desktop environment
  • Feather Linux – a lightweight Linux distribution (under 128 MB) derived from Knoppix. Now dormant.[18][19]
  • LinuxBBQ – a very lightweight (291.5 MB) and resource-friendly distribution based on Debian Sid with TUI productivity applications.[20]
  • Lightweight Portable Security – a lightweight live desktop-oriented distribution based on Arch Linux
  • Lubuntu – lightweight (705 MB) in comparison to Ubuntu, it uses the LXDE desktop.[3]
  • LXLE – a full featured OS (apps preinstalled) for older hardware, using minimal resources, respun from Lubuntu. Media download, approx 1.3G.
  • Nanolinux – a 14 MB distribution based on Tiny Core Linux.[21]
  • Peppermint Linux OS – download: 587 MB, based on Lubuntu[22]
  • Porteus – it weighs in at under 300 MB, making it a lightweight contender[23] Comes with the LXDE and KDE desktops
  • Puppy Linux – lightweight relative to most other Linux distributions[24] Download: 133−162 MB. Package Manager: Puppy Package Manager (PPM)
  • SliTaz – 35−42 MB distribution; Package Manager is Tazpkg with its repository of packages[16]
  • Tiny Core Linux – (9, 15 or 72 MB) distribution; Software repository: TCZ packages[25]
  • Trisquel Mini – lightweight version (603 MB) of Trisquel with LXDE[26]
  • Xubuntu – lightweight (980 MB) in comparison to Ubuntu. It uses the XFCE desktop.
  • Zenwalk – a lightweight linux distribution (845 MB) based on Slackware[citation needed]

Comparison of lightweight Linux distributions

Distribution Founder Maintainer Initial release year Latest release year Approximate file size X window manager Fork Target audience
Alpine Linux Alpine Linux Team Alpine Linux Team 2006 2015 284 MB[27] MATE, Xfce, openbox - network
Absolute Linux Absolute Linux Team Absolute Linux Team 2007 2014 284 MB[28] iceWM - desktop
antiX Anticapitalista Anticapitalista 2007 2015 690 MB Fluxbox Debian - MEPIS old computers, portability (with persistence[29])
ArchBang Willensky Aristide Stan McLaren 2010 2015 523 MB OpenBox Arch Linux desktop
Bodhi Linux Bodhi Linux Team Bodhi Linux Team 2011 2015 585 MB Enlightenment Debian, Ubuntu desktop
BunsenLabs Linux Core Maintainers Core Maintainers 2015 2015 825 MB OpenBox Debian desktop
CrunchBang Linux Philip Newborough Philip Newborough 2008 2013 771 MB OpenBox Debian desktop
CRUX Per Lidén Core maintainers 2002 2014 333 MB OpenBox - BSD/experienced users, lightweight
Damn Small Linux John Andrews dev team 2003 2008 50 MB FluxBox, JWM Debian, Knoppix portable, lightweight
Elive Thanatermesis Thanatermesis 2005 2010 700 MB Enlightenment Debian desktop
LXLE Ronnie LXLE team 2012 2015 1400 MB LXDE Ubuntu LTS apps preinstalled, older computers, intermediate users
LinuxBBQ Julius Hader BBQ team 2013 2015 291.5 MB several (>75) Debian, Slackware bloat-free, experienced users
Lightweight Portable Security United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense 2011 2015 500 MB iceWM ArchLinux secure live operating system
Porteus Fanthom Porteus 2010 2014 215 MB (multiple) Slackware lightweight, portable (with persistence[29])
Puppy Linux Barry Kauler Puppy Foundation 2003 2014 156 MB[30] JWM, IceWM - portable, lightweight
SliTaz GNU/Linux Christophe Lincoln dev team 2008 2012 35 MB Openbox - portable, no persistence by default[31]
Tiny Core Linux Robert Shingledecker Team Tiny Core 2009 2015 15 MB FLTK/FLWM Tiny Core Linux portable
Trisquel Mini Rubén Rodríguez Pérez (quidam) Rubén Rodríguez Pérez (quidam) 2005 2014 600 MB LXDE Ubuntu LTS Free software: desktop
Zenwalk Jean-Philippe Guillemin dev team 2004 2015 845 MB Xfce Slackware general
Distribution Founder Maintainer Initial release year Latest release year Approx file size X window manager Fork Target audience

See also


  1. Larabel, Michael. "Phoronix: Power & Memory Usage Of GNOME, KDE, LXDE & Xfce". Phoronix. Retrieved 30 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. RAM use of LXDE vs Xfce in Porteus again confirms that LXDE is about half of that of Xfce
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lubuntu Developers (December 2010). "Lubuntu". Retrieved 14 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Behling, Mario (October 2010). "lubuntu 10.10 released". Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Canonical Ltd (October 2010). "Recommended Minimum System Requirements". Retrieved 14 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Alpine Linux Wiki". Retrieved 2012-11-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Main Page – antiX". Retrieved 2012-05-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Rob Zwetsloot. "ArchBang Linux 2012.12 Review – Lightweight Arch". LinuxUser. Retrieved 2012-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Justin Pot. "ArchBang Is Lightweight & Always Up To Date". MakeUseOf. Retrieved 2011-10-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Keesan, Sindhi (October 2009). "BL on CF IDE drive". Retrieved 16 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. BasicLinux (n.d.). "BasicLinux". Retrieved 16 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Nitesh. "Bodhi Linux is a Lightweight Linux Distribution". Ubuntu Vibes. Retrieved 2011-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "FOSS Hits & Misses on a Monday Morning". Linux Today. Retrieved 2015-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Justin Pot. "CrunchBang: A Lightweight OS Perfect For Old And New Computers Alike". MakeUseOf. Retrieved 2013-04-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Jim Lynch. "CrunchBang 11 Waldorf". Desktop Linux Reviews. Retrieved 2013-05-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Moparx (April 2008). "SliTaz: A light-weight GNU/Linux distribution". Linux Infusion. Retrieved 11 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Damn Small Linux (n.d.). "What is DSL?". Retrieved 11 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Feather Linux - Docs". Retrieved 2013-05-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. " :: Feather Linux: Light is right". Retrieved 2013-05-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Julius Hader. "BBQ Philosophy". Retrieved 2015-01-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Softpedia". Retrieved 25 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Peppermint". Retrieved 13 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Porteus (14 November 2010). "Why choose Porteus ? - IT IS PORTABLE". Retrieved 30 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Hell-Noire, Paul (July 2010). "Puppy Linux 5.0 Review - Lightweight, Fun, Fast!". Raymond. Archived from the original on July 11, 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Lynch, Jim (July 2009). "Tiny Core Linux 2.1". Desktop Linux Reviews. Retrieved 11 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Trisquel 5.0 Release announcement". The Trisquel Project. September 17, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 Linux with persistence
  31. persistence can be added rather easily though